The Dos and Don’ts of Page Speed Optimization: What You Need to Know

page speed optimization

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page speed optimization

When a user visits your website, they’re not looking for a page that takes forever to load.

Imagine having a page that had all its contents loaded instantly as compared to a page that took forever to load. It’s not rocket science to figure out which page will appeal more to users.

More importantly you need to figure out;

 (a) which website users are likelier to come back a second time,

 (b) which website is likelier to encourage users to go from being visitors to customers

In short, which web page is likelier to make visitors perform a conversion, thereby increasing the chances of you earning a profit?

If your page takes eons to load, it gives a specific message to visitors and they’ll abstain from making a conversion.

If the page takes long to load, how much longer and more tiring is the shopping process going to be?

Remember that people today prefer faster broadband connections and have easy access to them. This, in turn, renders them unable to wait for pages that take longer to load.

Imagine investing in the quality of your product/service, creating quality content for marketing, having stellar web design, and then losing it all because your page speed hasn’t been optimized correctly.

Efficiency is the need of the hour, and the world is growing more and more digitized by the day. Online establishments and ventures—such as websites and social media profiles—need to become equally efficient.

According to reports, in America alone 96% people prefer shopping online. Forbes showed in a report that as many as 47% people prefer online marketplaces when making repeat purchases.

This in turn hooks people to your product/service through:

(a) a smooth, fast-loading page and useful web page, and

(b) customer retention strategies that ensure that customers will come back for a product that is “tried and tested.”

If you sell a service or a product, then page speed optimization becomes even more important.

The page speed will be directly proportional to how successful your business is.

Understanding Page Speed 

How fast do the contents of your page load for users? The measurement of this speed is, at its most fundamental, page speed.

Don’t confuse this with site speed, which is a measurement of the views the page has had.

Page speed refers to the time it takes for all the content on your page to load and the time it takes for your server to relay the first byte of information to the user’s browser.

Check Your PageSpeed Insights

Google allows you to have full knowledge of page speed through its PageSpeed Insights option.

There are two metrics that come under the umbrella of PageSpeed Insights for evaluation. These are:

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP): The time that it takes a user to go from a browser to content that’s displayed first and foremost. It’s the FCP that helps users determine that the page is, in fact, loading.
  • DOM Content Loaded (DCL): DCL occurs when everything HTML is ready for interaction, without style sheets or subframes blocking the event because they haven’t fully loaded yet.

Data from Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) is used to measure this.

It’s important to understand that “loading” is not, theoretically speaking, “a single moment in time,” but a measurement of varying experiences.

This enables users to determine whether a page is “slow” or “fast.”  

Why it Matters

The digital world is in a constant race in which no two contenders are ever equal: there’s always a winner, always someone on top, always someone that dominates.

Dominating the digital marketplace is no different: no matter the wishy-washy feel-good trite you’re fed in school, everyone is not a winner and everyone is not in the same boat.

Your website will either rank on the topmost positions—or it won’t.

In order to rank high in the digital marketplace so that you can make your presence felt with a greater impact, you’re required to rank higher on SERPs.

The page speed optimization of web pages comes under the process of website SEO.

Keeping Google Happy

Google uses algorithms to rank pages. And according to Google itself, site speed is one of the things it considers when it chooses to rank a certain page.

But more importantly, there’s evidence that suggests that Google considers the time it takes for the first byte to reach the browser when it’s measuring page speed.

It’s also important to note here that SERPs have a certain crawl budget, under the jurisdiction of which they can only allow a particular number of pages to crawl.

Slower pages mean fewer pages, which is destructive in terms of indexation.

Bounce rate also has a role to play here: the faster your page loads, the lower your bounce rate is going to be.

Slow loading pages have higher bounce rates, and are thus likelier to lose customers and reduce your conversions.

Page Speed Optimization: the Dos and the Don’ts

We’ve established that building a website that has a high conversion rate is directly in line with its speed.

Page speed is essential to generate higher conversion rates and sell more products/services. It’s also essential to maintain it if you’re looking for a lower bounce rate.

Given this much, it’s still difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind a page that loads slowly: anything, from large elements or images or badly written code could be affecting it.

PageSpeed industry benchmarks prove that a link exists between bounce rates and faster page speeds, courtesy of Google.

This means that if your page is taking 10 seconds to load, visitors are 120% likelier to abandon you for a page that has its speed optimized better.

Remember, faster is better—so how do you ensure this?

We have some ideas:

Reduce the CSS

Cascading stylesheets are supposed to beautify your website, and are in a sense an important enough element (especially if your brand’s aesthetic is supposed to look elegant and beautiful). However, CSS files are hardly light.

Think in terms of a ton of code: from a comma to a code comment to line break—everything is an additional weight to the overall size of your file.

While simplifying the job of people who handle the code, it can considerably slow the website down. We suggest therefore that an original copy of the code be maintained.

Have your developers minimize the unnecessary code bits—keep the savings between 20% to 30%. You can use CSSminifier for the job.

Reduce the JavaScript

JavaScript compression is also something that most people simply “forget” about. Minify the JavaScript to ensure nothing unnecessary is taking up space.

Cut Down on File Requests

page speed optimization in process

Wherever CSS can be used instead of an image, go ahead and use it. From buttons to gradients, much can be compensated with CSS. This reduces the number of file requests you make and allows your page to load faster.

In short, amalgamate all your file requests into one for JavaScript.

Image Optimization

Large images and a great number of images can both turn your page into a slow loading one.

The trick to avoiding this is to save your image as the right file—as well as knowing whether you need to save in terms of bytes of kilobytes.

Reduce the file size. Use Fireworks instead of Photoshop to export the images and save the time it takes for your page to load.

Cash in on Caches

Databases have become a common resource used by websites these days, especially if you look in the e-commerce arena.

The number of file requests, as has been aforementioned, contributes to the slowing down of a website.

This is exactly what happens with databases. A request is forwarded to the database from site visitors every time a page is loaded.

The problem with this is that servers can process only a limited number of requests before beginning to buffer.

Caches solve this problem by eliminating the need to have all the information requested over and over again. Instead, the information is recalled because it’s saved.

Large websites such as Facebook function so efficiently because they use cashes. Caching is also easier to perform with Magneto or WordPress.

Write Better CSS

The learning is easy, the mastering is tough.

Efficiency in the CSS department is crucial to building a page and a website that customers are less likely to abandon.

Writing better CSS is, of course, the final nail in the coffin.

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of page speed and why it matters.

Remember to check your PageSpeed Insights periodically. And if you keep the above 6 page speed optimization tips in mind, your page load times should decrease by a good margin. 🙂

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